Hike to the Stone Mountain summit in Dupont State Forest to catch stunning, 180-degree panoramas from a rocky mountaintop with abundant wildflowers.
LOCATION:DuPont State Forest near Brevard, NC
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 780 Trails Illustrated Map
Moss-covered boulders. Colorful wildflowers. A summit drenched in sunshine, with broad swaths of stone that offer sweeping panoramic views. There’s a whole lot of outdoor beauty to love on Stone Mountain.
The mountain is located in DuPont State Recreational Forest, best known for its ultra-popular (and equally stunning) waterfalls. Stone Mountain is a rocky mountaintop near the park’s northern border that offers some beautiful southward views of DuPont’s scenic, 10,000+ acres. At 3620 feet, it’s the tallest summit in the park. And with DuPont’s extensive network of awesome hiking and mountain biking trails, there’s more than one way to the summit.
It’s puzzling, then, why the hike to this mountaintop isn’t more popular. Given the popularity of the park’s waterfalls, perhaps the throngs of DuPont State Forest visitors are too waterfall-obsessed to seek out this great summit view? That’s fine, though: waterfalls are fantastic, but we’re also all about some great summit solitude. What’s better than some fantastic long-range views from a quiet, sunny, domed summit framed in wildflowers?
Stone Mountain Trail at DuPont State Forest: the hike
The hike departs from a trailhead off the graveled Sky Valley Road in DuPont State Forest, located 1.5 miles east of the park’s Guion Farm parking area (view maps and driving directions). This hike, the most direct (and scenic) to the summit that we’ve found, follows the Rough Ridge Trail northbound from the trailhead to access the trail to the mountain summit. The Rough Ridge Trail dives into the forest, hiking .3 mile before reaching an intersection with the Stone Mountain Trail, turning right at the signed intersection.
The trail arcs to the northeast, trailing through a forest of pine, fern and mountain laurel. The hike reaches an intersection with the Switchback Trail at .5 mile, veering left continue hiking the Stone Mountain Trail and trekking northbound. The hike treks over a rocky trail bed, beginning a nearly unrelenting climb to the mountaintop, a 550+ foot gain over the next .8 mile.
The trail carves through a tight switchback at .75 miles, veering west. Wildflowers line the trail’s sides, stretching high to catch some sunlight. The trail swings northeast, trekking through a grassy clearing at 1 mile. (In warm summer months, the meadow is dense with grasses and shrubs, and can be a tight, challenging stretch of trail to navigate through.)
The hike dives back into the shade of the forest, passing several moss-covered boulders and beginning a final ascent to the domed mountaintop. The trail climbs over roots and rocks under a dense canopy of shade, and moss spreads in a thick carpet over the rocky, near-summit terrain. Green-leafed galax fills the air with its signature onion-like scent.
The trail summits the mountain, reaching the first of several extensive clearings and a large stone pile at 1.25 miles.
The hike continues to explore the rocky, sunny summit, trailing eastbound. Views extend out from several nearby clearings on the mountaintop, where wide, curved rock expanses offer a perfect place to enjoy the long-range views. The rolling terrain of DuPont State Forest is visible to the south. Wildflowers bask in the ample summit sunlight, framing the mountaintop in vibrant color.
The hike departs the summit and retraces its outbound steps to return to the trailhead. The hike reaches the trailhead at 2.6 miles, finishing the adventure.
More adventures at DuPont State Forest
While it’s well-loved for its gorgeous, tumbling waterfalls, DuPont offers some fairly fantastic hikes to mountain summits, too. Finished with Stone Mountain and still have energy and daylight to spare? Hike the Big Rock Trail to Cedar Rock Mountain, a 3,000-foot granite dome near the park’s southwest edge. Chase waterfalls on the outstanding hike to Bridal Veil Falls, crossing the park’s covered bridge and visiting the banks of Lake Julia. Or visit five falls in just under five miles on the beautiful DuPont State Forest Waterfalls Hike, hiking to the tumbling cascades of Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls.
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
Free parking is available at the trailhead. Check the DuPont State Forest website for hours and closures.
35.212300, -82.573000 // N35 12.738 W82 34.380